Cotton is grown in 152 communities from Emerald in the north of Queensland right down to Griffith in southern NSW. Throughout these regions there are up to 1500 cotton farms growing some of the finest quality and highest yielding cottons in the world.
When times are good and there’s plenty of water in the rivers, cotton becomes a lifeblood to these regional communities, and they prosper. But when drought sets in, and there’s no water for cotton (or any other crop) these towns suffer and can take a long time to recover.
The benefits of a successful cotton industry are felt at many levels:
- On the farm, where an average of eight staff are employed (cotton provided employed for 8,000 people in Australia)
- In the local community where direct support is provided to over 4,000 business
- In the national accounts where $2 billion a year is generated in export earnings
Above all, cotton farmers are people who live and work in local, rural communities across NSW and Queensland. They provide jobs, their kids go to school and play sport in rural towns and they shop locally for agricultural supplies and services. Cotton growers are mostly family farmers who have lived and worked in their communities for generations.
The average Australian cotton farm:
- is family owned and operated
- directly creates jobs for 6-7 people
- is run by farmers with an average age of 39
- grows 495 hectares of cotton, comprising 17% of the total farm area
- supplements cotton with other crops including wheat, chickpeas and sorghum, and many Australian cotton farmers also graze sheep and cattle
- dedicates 42% of farm area to native vegetation
An extensive system of production, harvesting and ginning provides countless jobs for mechanics, distributors of farm machinery, consultants, crop processors and other support services workers. Industries such as banking, transportation, warehousing and merchandising also benefit from a viable Australian cotton industry.